Home Court Advantage

Home Court advantage isn’t much of a thing at the tennis Majors anymore. The Majors that used to highlight the pride of their nations, have sparsely honored a native son or daughter. Outside of the American women at the US Open, the host nations best have been blocked out of their Championships.

US Open

American women have been keeping the US Open to American winners. In recent years it was mainly with the help of Serena and Venus Williams, but not exclusively.

The last time an American won the US Open was in 2017 when it was an all American semifinal. Sloane Stephens won her only Major by defeating fellow American Madison Keyes. Prior to that, Serena Williams has won her home event 6 times and Venus Williams 2. Between 1995 and 2002 four different Americans were in the Finals at Flushing Meadows (winning 5 straight starting in 1998).

American stars have always shined at the US Open. When the US Open moved to allowing professionals in 1968 it had an American in the Final for 19 straight years. An American won it 15 times with a ten year span of an American holding the title.

The American men, who like the women have historically owned the US Open, are experiencing a historic dry spell.

The first 44 years of the event saw only Americans victors. In the first 74 years there were only four non-Americans to win the US Open. Even as it moved to the Open Era, the American men have represented their home slam well. Arthur Ashe was the inaugural winner when the event opened up to professionals in 1968. Between 1978 and 1984 only Americans held the US Open Title.

In the 1990s, six of the US Open victors were Americans and only two years did an American not represent in the Finals. Since the retirement of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras (who won his home Major a total of five times with 8 total appearances in the Finals) the American victors have been sparse.

Andy Roddick was the last American to win the US Open in 2003. An American hasn’t even made the Final in the last 17 years. It is the longest dry spell of an American man in the history of the tournament.

Wimbledon

The most prestigious of the Majors has seen the fewest of its countrymen and women host the trophy.

Andy Murray fulfilled the countries years of prayers when he won the event in 2013. The Scotsman won it again in 2016. He is the most recent man to win his home Major of all the Majors.

Historically, Wimbledon has been the most difficult for the home crowd to cheer on their countrymen. Murray is the only Brit to have won Wimbledon in the Open Era for the men. This is better than the women who haven’t had a single British champion at Wimbledon in the Open Era. The last women’s champion from Britain was in 1961 when Angela Mortimer won the event.

Wimbledon actually began 3 years after the US Open (then known as the US Championships). A British woman held the title for its first twenty years. Until World War I, only American Mary Sutton wasn’t a British winner. Between the world wars Kitty Godfree and Dorothy Round each won the event twice for Great Britain. Since World War II, only Angela Mortimer’s single win in 1961 has a British woman won Wimbledon.

(Original Caption) Angela Mortimer Wins The Ladies Championship, Wimbledon 1961. Miss Angela Mortimer, this afternoon won the Ladies Singles Championship at Wimbledon, beating Miss Christine Truman, in three sets.—-Angela Mortimer is seen holding the Ladies Singles Championships trophy, after her victory on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, this afternoon. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The British men look similar, with the stark exception of Andy Murray’s recent success. The Brits owned the event from 1887 until 1906. Fred Perry of the United Kingdom won the event three consecutive years from 1934 to 1936. He was the last British man to win Wimbledon until Andy Murray in 2016.

French Open

The French men’s history of their home Open is similar to their English counterparts. They dominated the early years when it was the French Championships. Though a Brit won the inaugural tournament in 1891, the French Champion was French for the next 32 years. After World War II they had some success with Bernard Destremau and Yvon Petra who together won it 5 straight years followed by a win by Marcel Bernard in 1946. In the Open Era, only 2 Frenchman have made the French Open Finals. Yannick Noah was the last Frenchman to hold the trophy at Roland Garros when he defeated Mats Wilander in 1983.

The women have had more recent success with Mary Pierce winning the French as a Frenchwoman in 2000. But their overall success is one of the worst. Suzanne Lenglen had ample success in her home Open in the 1920s, only Frenchwomen made the Finals in the early years of the tournament. But since the end of World War II only 2 French women have won the event.

Australian Open

It has been 42 years since an Aussie woman held up their trophy, though. The Australian Open was, historically, the least prestigious of the Majors. For many years the top women players didn’t go to Melbourne in their primes (Chris Evert, in her 18 year career only went to the Australian 6 times). The Australian Open was thus dominated by Australians for a much longer period in the early years than the other Majors.

The women’s event started in 1922, forty years after the other three Majors. An Australian won it all but twice until World War II. Following the war they still had ample success up until the 1960s. In 1960, Margaret Smith won her first Major. Margaret Smith would later marry and become Margaret Court. Court still owns the record for most Majors and most Australian Open wins for women. She dominated the event for 12 years. At the tail end of Court’s career, another great Aussie woman appeared to take over ownership of the Australian, Evonne Goolagong. The event stayed in Australian hands until 1978. Chris O’Neil was the last Australian to hold the trophy. Since then, there hasn’t been an Australian champion in Melbourne for the women. Ashleigh Barty is #1 in the world with a Major win at the French in 2019. There is a chance this Major will come back to a native daughter.

The Aussie men look similar to their female counterparts, though they weren’t as dominate in the early years. The Australasian Championships for the men kicked off in 1905. In the first 10 years there were only 6 Australian winners (others included New Zealanders, Brits and American champions). Between the world wars the Australians had the kind of local success the other Majors experienced, only 5 non-Australians won the event through those years and an Aussie always made the Final. Their success continued after World War II, which Wimbledon and the French did not have. From post-war Australian until the Open Era, the event was owned by the Aussies (only losing the title twice to an American each time). The majority of that time it was only Aussies in the Finals.

When the Open Era arrived, it was poised for the Australian to continue it’s dominance. Rod Laver, John Newcombe and Ken Rosewall, all Australians, held a tight hold on their home Major and the world rankings. Mark Edmonson’s defeat of fellow Aussie John Newcombe in 1976 was the last Australian to win down under. Four times in the following 44 years an Aussie has made the Australian Final, but they always came up short. The latest disappointment was 2005 when Lleyton Hewitt was defeated in the Final by Russian Marat Safin.

Best Chances

The American women need no help, in the 2020 US Open there were 3 women in the quarterfinals and two in the semis. An American made the Final in 2019 and in 2018 there were 2 American women in the semi’s and 3 in the quarters. American women’s tennis still represents the US Open proudly.

The American men may be the weakest, with the slimmest chance of seeing a reversal of their nearly 30 year drought. They haven’t had a consistent Top 10 players since Andy Roddick retired in the early 2000s. John Isner has been the top ranked American man for a decade now. He has peeked at 8th in the world in 2018. His best Major finish was an epic Semifinal at Wimbledon that year. His best finish in his home slam was two appearances in the quarterfinals (2011, 2018). There is some budding talent like Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe on the horizon, but the American fans have been promised budding talent for 30 years now.

The British men are looking as bleak as the American men. Kyle Edmund has been as high as 14th in the world as the next best British player behind Murray. He has never been to the second week of Wimbledon with his highest Major finish being a semifinal appearance at the Australian in 2018. Andy Murray is still playing, coming back from major surgery. His winning ways are probably behind him.

Multiple times the British fans have hoped on Johanna Konta. The 29 year old has been as high as #4 in the world. She made the semis of Wimbledon in 2017 and the quarters there in 2019. The British women do have a top 10 talent, but behind Konta there isn’t much.

The top ranked Frenchwoman is Kristina Mladenovic at #44. There are a handful of Frenchwomen in the top 100. But their chances of repeating Mary Pierce’s victory seem faint.

On the men’s side, there have been a handful of young talent each year the French Open hoped to side with. Unfortunately for the French men, the French Open is currently owned by Rafael Nadal.

The Australian Women have the best chance of seeing a native daughter hoisting their trophy. Ash Barty made the quarterfinals in 2018 and the semis in 2019. She won the French Open in 2019. Her chances of holding the Australian trophy look good. Outside of Barty the next highest ranked Australian woman is outside the top 50. It’s probably Barty or bust.

The Australian Men have a lot of promising talent. Alex de Minaur made the quarters at fellow hard court Major the US Open in 2020. Nick Kyrgios everyone agrees has the talent, just his work ethic is questioned. And John Millman has made some runs at Majors. Like the French Open, the Australian has been dominated by 2 players over the last twenty years. Novak Djokovic has won it a record 8 times, Roger Federer had the record of 6 before Djokovic passed him in 2019.

Total Winners

Wimbledon Women: 32 British winners of 123 Champions (26 percent)

Wimbledon Men: 26 British winners of 120 Champions (22 percent)

French Women: 30 French winners of 114 Champions (26 percent)

French Men: 40 French winners of 120 Champions (33 percent)

US Open Women: 91 American winners of the 132 Champions (69 percent)

US Open Men: 80 American winners of 132 Champions (56 percent)

Australian Women: 43 Australian winners of 94 Champions (46 percent)

Australian Men: 50 Australian winners of 103 Champions (49 percent)

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